Millions of Americans are embracing the brave new world of Internet dating through sites like www.match.com and www.eHarmony.com, swapping e-mails and instant messages with potential love interests, their most intimate thoughts navigating through a gauntlet of firewalls, spam filters and, of course, the occasional lunatic.
But "It's no substitute for that first impression of meeting someone face to face in a safe environment," said Junette Kelly, founder of Nevada Singles.
A wise veteran whose lived through disco-era dating to the modern world of love-at-first-double-click Web sites, Kelly has seen it all, tried it all, and says she knows what works.
"People are visual animals. With the Internet, you miss out on that magic feeling of eyeing someone from across the room and getting the thrills and chills of instant attraction," Kelly said.
"No matter how good the Web site is, there's always that lingering suspicion you may never really know exactly who you're communicating with."
"It's hard to read things like body language behind the mask of a computer screen," she added. "And while some program might tell you you're compatible with another person, there's something nice about the process of getting to know someone in person through old-fashioned conversation and mutual discovery."
"Plus," she added. "Not everybody owns a computer."
That's one of the reasons Kelly has decided to revive Nevada Singles for 40-year-old-plus singles after a six-year hiatus.
She dissolved the 300-member club when she moved to Southern California to take care of her ailing mother. A subsequent move to Washington state to be near her daughter was nice, but a piece of her heart was always pining for Northern Nevada.
"So Nevada Singles is back!" she said proudly, noting that the club produced a handful of marriages during its first reincarnation.
"We're too young for the senior centers, and we're too old for the dance clubs," she laughed.
This time around, her vision is monthly social events - fun places for older singles to meet that don't involve smoky bars or loud nightclubs.
"Putting people in the same place and seeing what happens," said Kelly. "That's what we're all about."
Ice cream socials, full-moon hay-rides and hosted dinners - what Kelly calls "good, clean, conversational fun."
"I want to provide a safe environment for people to meet people," said Kelly. "Nevada can be a tough place to live and be single. You get so settled, and the towns are so spread out."
Those interested in joining are encouraged to e-mail her at email@example.com or call 841-1329 (before 9 p.m., please).
n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.